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    Addressing the main cause of physician burnout


    In the second article, the authors describe the collaborative efforts of multiple medical organizations to address physician wellness and burnout (2). In January 2017, the National Academy of Medicine, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education launched a National Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resiliency. Later in the article, they comment that there is a strong commitment from more than 100 national organizations to make clinician well-being a priority.

    I appreciate and applaud the efforts of all the authors and medical organizations above. However, something practical and immediate needs to be done. There is little argument that the EHR, and especially meaningful use of the EHR, are the main drivers of physician burnout and decreased productivity.


    MORE FROM DR. ALDINGER: There needs to be accountability for the lack of interoperability


    Why not suggest and/or demand a pause in meaningful use of the EHR and its associated quality metrics? It certainly has not improved care, decreased costs, or improved patient satisfaction. In fact, it has done the exact opposite of all that was intended. When and if the IT industry introduces an EHR that is clinically useful, then we can resume meaningful use of that which is USEFUL. Until then, allow physicians to use their computers in a manner that best supports their clinical care of the patient.

    There is strength in numbers. If the vast majority of the over 100 national organizations committed to clinician well-being, quoted in the second NEJM article, were to join this effort, we may have a chance of improving physician and patient well-being.

    I am sure there are those who would suggest that I protest too much. They may suggest there exists EHRs that are clinically useful. They may even suggest that it is a poor carpenter who finds faults with his tools. However, those are HIS tools of HIS choosing. I would respond that it is a far worse bureaucrat who forces new unproven tools upon a competent carpenter.



    1.     Wright A, Katz I.  Beyond Burnout- Redesigning Care to Restore Meaning and Sanity for Physicians. NEJM 2018; 378:309-311

    2.     Dzau V, Kirch D, Nasca T. To Care is Human- Collectively Confronting the Clinician Burnout Crisis. NEJM 2018; 378:312-314

    Keith Aldinger, MD
    Dr. Aldinger is an internist who practices in Houston, Texas.


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    • [email protected]
      "Why not suggest and/or demand a pause in meaningful use of the EHR and its associated quality metrics?" Or why not "let" physicians use paper if they so desire? We do - we love it, our patients love it, revenue is increasing and overhead is flat, and we leave the office at 5 with all charts done. What's not to like?
    • [email protected]
      The complaints about EHRs haven’t changed since I retired 6 years ago. As I see it, the problem is EHRs are not made for physicians to carry out their work. They are made for us to justify charges to insurance companies, make life easier for insurance companies and the government. They really don’t HELP US. The first thing they should do is make it easier for us to do our job, including talking to other doctor’s offices, hospitals, labs etc and not just local ones.

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